In case you haven't heard, the Philadelphia Phillies will face the Tampa Bay Rays in this year's World Series. In spite of this good news for sports fans in our city, an article in today's Wall Street Journal asks "Can Phillies Fans Embrace Optimism?" WSJ sports reporter Allan Barra went to Penn Press authors William C. Kashatus and Bruce Kuklick for some answers.
In all of their dismal history, there is but a single shining moment: the Phillies' victory over the Kansas City Royals in the 1980 World Series, celebrated with a parade down Broad Street that Philadelphians still talk about. "That still stands as the greatest day in Philadelphia sports history," says William Kashatus, author of "Almost a Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the 1980 Phillies." "People who had been battered by economic hardship and racial strife forgot their differences, took a day off from work, went out in the streets, and had a party.
"Philadelphia sometimes forgets this is really a baseball town," says Mr. Kashatus. "The parade in 1980 proved this. You wouldn't have gotten a celebration like that for the Eagles, '76ers, and Flyers combined."
Twenty-eight years later, a new generation of Phillies fans is asking: Is it time for another parade?
Phillies fans have a reputation as the meanest and most cynical in baseball, but given the history they've had to live with, that might be a natural reaction. "They're like characters in a Springsteen song," Prof. Kuklick [author of To Everything There Is a Season: Shibe Park and Urban Philadelphia and Black Philosopher, White Academy: The Career of William Fontaine] says. "They feel like dogs that have been kicked too much." But there's something about this year's Phillies that makes you feel that a new era is here. Maybe.